Miyajima Trip: The Beauty of Nature in Japan PT 1
My name is Emily and I’m an intern at WabiMoss. My mother is Japanese, and she now lives in Japan with my father and two sisters. Just recently, I returned to California after visiting them for two weeks. We had a wonderful time, both at home and during our travels. Our first stop: Miyajima. Miyajima is a small island off the southern coast of Japan’s main island, near Hiroshima. For two days and one night, we went to visit the small island.
We departed from Hiroshima to set sail for Miyajima by way of a ferry. From a window in the ferry, I watched the ocean water waves churn as we made our way to the island. The sun glistened up above and left a bright yellow sheen on the water, highlighting the tips of each wave.
We docked at the Miyajima port, and made our way to our ryoukan, or traditional Japanese inn. The summer weather in Japan is very hot and humid. That day, temperatures were near 100 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity at almost 95%. We trekked through the town, our luggage in tow, until we reached the small inn to check in and drop off our bags.
Afterwards, we began our journey through Miyajima. Almost immediately after walking out of the inn, I noticed a rock and cement wall that guarded the roads at one of the turns. The wall shielded the road from the hill behind it, which was covered in thick trees and greenery. What stood out, though, was the thick roots of the trees which had penetrated the cement wall and sprouted out, peaking out of its cement curtains, as if to catch a glimpse of the world beyond the wall. Besides the tree roots, adorning the cement wall was vibrant green moss. The humidity and heat made the moss open, which lent it its vibrant green hue in the summer sunshine. In this cement wall was the perfect image of nature and man’s coexistence – while the wall blocked any debris from spilling out into the streets, nature also decorated the scene with its power.
Miyajima is also famous for the deer that co-inhabit the island. Multitudes of deer, young and old, walk the streets with the many people. While people are not supposed to touch or feed the deer, the deer seem comfortable with approaching people (and sometimes shoving their heads in people’s handbags in search of food!). As I sat on a bench, in search of a beautiful view of the water and reprieve from the heat, I was lucky enough to have one of these little deer sit next to me and eat some pine needles.
Perhaps one of the most breath-taking and famous locations is Itsukushima Shrine, a beautiful Shinto shrine on the edge of the water – quite literally. The shrine is built so that when high tide comes in, the shrine sits above the water. The red coloring of the wood in juxtaposition to the cool blue of the water is mesmerizing. Beyond the shrine, further towards the deep waters is a large torii gate, called the Ootorii. The gate appears to float when high tide comes in, as the water wells and hides the gate’s lower portions. Even when low tide exposes the bottom of the gate, the sheer stature and look of the gate is spellbinding.
Itsukushima Shrine is only one of the many beautiful things to see in Miyajima. The streets are lined in beautiful shops showcasing fascinating art, quirky trinkets, and snapshots of Miyajima’s natural beauty. Bushes of moss are like carpets upon walls, sandy streets lead to the edge of the water, and red pagodas emanate from the luscious, green landscape. If only one blog post was enough to describe this fascinating place! The beauty of Miyajima island is almost unbelievable, but certainly worth the trip.
(all photographs by Emily Shapiro)